Many fashionable women have become famous for their hats — from Jackie O. and her demure pillboxes to the style icon Isabella Blow and her outrageous concoctions. And yet few, if any, designers have become household names for their millinery. So it's heartening to see the hatmaker Akio Hirata get his due, in Akio Hirata's Exhibition of Hats, a brilliantly produced installation on view at Tokyo's Spiral Garden until July 3.
Designed by Nendo, the exhibition creates a stunning contrast between Hirata's handcrafted hats and the 4,000 mass-produced white hats that float and stream through the space like ghosts of the real things. The setup has no clearly defined progression, inviting visitors to wander about the shadow-casting objects before stumbling across one of Hirata's creations, which, like all good toppers (or bad, for that matter), stand out in the crowd.